G.O.B. Goes Cowabunga!

The Hollywood Reporter has just announced that Will Arnett has joined the cast of John Liebesman‘s upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adaptation/reboot/reimagining/whatever.

Arnett is perhaps best known as the hopelessly overconfident/painfully inept older brother from Mitch Hurwitz‘s soon-to-be-returning Arrested Development, though he also starred in the recently cancelled Up All Night and played one half of a villainous pair of ice-skating siblings in Blades of Glory. There’s no news yet on what role Arnett will be playing, but, given his acumen, some sort of comic relief is probably a safe bet.

Another beloved childhood animated series dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by producer Michael Bay, the film also features Transformers Megan Fox as April O’Neil while the Turtles themselves – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael – will be voiced and mo-capped by Alan Ritchson, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard and Noel Fisher.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started existence as a single-issue comic book by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, whose shell-laden heroes were intended to parody some of the most popular comics of the early ’80s, including Marvel’s New Mutants and Dave Sim‘s Cerberus. The TMNT blind rat sensei, Splinter, is clearly a wash on Daredevil while the series’ masked ninja antagonist could have come straight from the pages of Frank Miller‘s Ronin.

TMNT became a merchandising phenomenon, though Bay’s rebranding of the pizza-loving foursome into merely Ninja Turtles has hardly endeared him to diehard fans of the franchise and an early version of the script by Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec, dated January 2012, leaked online and almost sunk the whole thing before it began.

Needless to say, we at AP2HYC are more than a touch ambivalent about the whole thing. Robbie Rist, who voiced Michelangelo in the first three low-budget live-action films, wrote to Bay accusing him of “sodomizing” the original franchise. While we’re not willing to go that far yet, we’d like to make a few suggestions: 1) don’t make the TMNT aliens: they’re mutants – that’s their backstory; 2) don’t turn Shredder into “Schrader”, a US Army Colonel; in fact, 3) the more loyal you can be to the source material without be slavish, the less likely, as Eastman said, you are to get murdered (his words, not ours).

In any case, Ninja Turtles (*shudder*) is due for release on June 6th, 2014. As much as we love Will Arnett, it’s gonna take a lot to make us optimistic about his project, but we’ll keep bringing you the news, good, bad, and indifferent.

Do you feel sanguine about the prospects of a decent TMNT adaptation or have they made a huge mistake?

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Robert Wallis

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